Creating Flexible Environments in a Learner-Centered Classroom

Creating Flexible Environments in a Learner-Centered Classroom

Author: Kevin Ecarius

Along with the implementation of technology and new learning approaches, there has also been a shift away from traditional classroom design and toward more flexible learning environments. These flexible environments deviate from the status quo by focusing more on active learning, collaboration, and self-led learning.

Research suggests that teachers with flexible classrooms provide greater opportunity for students to practice 21st-century skills, as these learning spaces mirror today’s higher ed classrooms and workplaces. Technology is also more easily implemented into flexible learning spaces, enabling educators to further align learning with students’ futures in mind.

As we prepare students for their futures, it is important that classrooms reflect the spaces and skills that students will be expected to be familiar with in college and their careers. Some of the most important skills students need to succeed in school and work include the four C’s: critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. Students also need to be able to adapt to a variety of workspaces and styles, and flexible learning environments equip them with that adaptability.

While some K-12 schools have moved away from traditional classroom design by implementing design variations––such as collaborative learning areas, subject-specific learning centers, or clustering student desks rather than arranging them in rows––most classrooms continue to look the same as they did 40 years ago. However, the implementation of technology into the classroom has completely transformed the way students learn, and the spaces in which they learn should adjust to also meet this new era of active learning.

One tool in creating active learning environments is using “flexible furniture,” which allows student choice of seating and workspace, supporting peer interaction, collaboration, and self-led learning. Flexible furniture pieces are movable and/or multi-use, adapting to varying groups and tasks and enabling students to move throughout the classroom.

There are many examples of flexible, active learning environments across the country, and many schools are retrofitting their traditional classrooms to become learner-centered spaces. To learn more about some of the ways flexible learning spaces are enabling schools to support collaboration, engagement, and critical thinking, and to read the story of a district who has succeeded in supporting these goals with flexible furniture and creative design, click request info below to receive a copy of our new white paper: Active Learning Environments Support Student Engagement, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking. Within it, you will learn more about some of the ways flexible learning spaces are enabling schools to support collaboration, engagement, and critical thinking, and the research it is based upon.

Kevin Ecarius, Vice President of Sales, is an Accredited Learning Environment Planner (ALEP) with a track record of success in transforming learning spaces into 21st-century modern learning environments. Kevin has worked in education for 16 years in various roles all with the goal of planning and outfitting modern learning spaces. His belief is learning preferences differ by individual students and adapt throughout the day and 21st-century learning environments should offer choices to meet those individual needs while maintaining a degree of consistency and equity throughout the school.